This is certainly a time of the year for nostalgia. The trappings and trimmings of the season bring back so many memories for most of us. A whiff of a freshly-cut pine tree brought into the living room, and we're instantly transported back to our childhood. A click of the TV remote control brings us a Christmas program from long ago, like "Charlie Brown," "The Grinch" or "Frosty." The decorations, the music and the greeting cards all serve to resurrect memories of times long past.
Generally speaking, the memories of our childhood, which the Christmas season evokes, are pleasant. Our Christmas celebrations likely had their fair share of quarrels and disappointment. But time seems to filter all that out, so that most of us think back to Christmases past with longing. If only we could go back to those carefree, joyful, good old days!
In reality, Christmas means that we don't have to merely look back to the good old days. Christmas means the best is yet to come! You see, Christmas - the celebration of the birth of the Savior, not the commercialized version of it - means that one day we will be free from the pain and problems and sorrow and disappointment that we continually experience in this life. Christmas means that the Word became flesh. The eternal Son of God became a baby. He was born in a stable, lived as a man and died on a cross, all to release us from the hold sin had on us, and to free us from the crushing weight of the guilt it has brought into our lives. Christmas means we have true peace with our Creator. And ultimately, Christmas means the gates of Paradise, once locked to us because of sin, now stand wide open, where our Lord will welcome us with wide open arms.
As you put up your trees and decorations; as you watch a Rudolph rerun; as you bake cookies and buy presents and address cards, may all these preparations serve not only to make you long for the past, but even more so, to anticipate the future. For Christmas means the good old days are yet to come!
- Brent Merten is pastor of Mountain Valley Lutheran Church, 802 Brush Creek Terrace, Eagle.